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Yes - Big Generator CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.50 | 1055 ratings

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5 stars Sometimes I wonder just what Yes has to do to please their fans. Go for maximum epics on Topographic Oceans and get slagged for being excessive, pompous, overblown etc. Me, I love TFTO and consider it a crowning achievement in all music genres especially progressive Prog rock.

But things had changed for Yes and admittedly it began when Anderson quit in 1979. He should have returned for Drama and then things probably would have been very different. Perhaps if Trevor Horn had sung on 90125 instead. While that album resuscitated Yes it is too sugary melodically for me. However it was and is a deserved success and I'm glad it is just to keep things going. After all, had Yes been recording Close To The Gates Of Topographic Oceans then the complaints would be repetition and inability to progress. In fact of all bands I find Yes are the most constrained by their fans whatever they do. 4 x 20 minute songs, too much.10x 4 - 6 min songs - not enough. Please play 8-12 minutes featuring the Howe Guitar, symphonic keyboards with lots of drums fills and lightning bass runs with Anderson singing about who knows what. It's easy when you have a fan base this easy to please. So why not? Where did all the prog fans go that required Yes to" go commercial?"

Operating in a commercial environment is a difficult one for a band required to produce art and commercial success. But they did they latter and did very good work on material that is formatted to standard radio acceptability. Being Yes it is far superior to standard rock radio fare. It is very positive and happy music, something which would normally depress me. But Yes have usually been a positive sounding band. So what was the problem? Melodies? Not really I don't think. Anderson seemed to cope very well, as one would expect for him. Complexity? Probably. This is where a progressive or a Prog fan will think Oh no, where have all the complicated times gone? to paraphrase the Kinks.

So does an excellent AOR album become a bad Prog or progressive album? It makes for an awful punk album obviously so the trouble here is the context in which it is viewed. Shoot High Aim Low is a stand out track, lyrical spacious atmosphere and quite different to most anything else anywhere. Trevor Rabin is held up to be a guilty party. For someone who is a terrific musician this is quite outrageous. Cinema was his and Squire's idea, it was only the record company suggesting Anderson otherwise Cinema would probably have been left alone to become another arena rock band. Colliding Cinema with Yes would give unreasonable expectations on anyone. Instant compromise and Trevor Rabin finds his position in less regard by the fan base for doing what he intended to do. Blame the commercial requirements rather than Mr Rabin. Imagine being an Owner Of A Lonely Heart fan and having Oceans presented to you. No wonder Big Generator took a few years to record. I give Mr Rabin credit for writing, playing, producing and being quite a determined visionary in his own way.

The album is arena rock for the most part. Holy Lamb is an Anderson track that sounds lie a Fish out of water (heh) compared to the mainstream sound of this album. Shoot High is the highlight for me, it is instead of being packed like the fantastic Sound Chaser, it is allowed to breathe and become fantastic on its own merits.

Being a progressive fan I find requires some effort on the part of the listener. Usually this effort is to give a complex work a lot of spins before all is revealed. In this case it is required to just pop the album on and you have some excellent tunes. Okay it will never be heart of heart stuff for Yes fans generally but on it's own merits it is quite a fine album.

Four stars does not mean I think it's nearly as good as... whatever album. It is cohesive, concise, coherent, consistent (words beginning with a C this time... oops, sorry wrong band...). It doesn't set my world alight but it is fine for being a strong release with a difficult birth.

Oh yes, compared to virtually any other contemporary release it is stand out stuff indeed (the 1980s were dire). 20 years on this album is now and it is sounding quite fresh. Must be something in the production.

Oh one thing. The Trevor Rabin era Yes have the most awful art covers. I mean talk about shrill primary stuff. Now that is something that could do with a re-master, the terrible artwork!

Excellent rock album, bad cover artwork, in Prog terms... A good album, but while not essential to a progressive or Prog collection not too bad at all 3 1/2 stars. Just put it in a paper bag....

uduwudu | 5/5 |


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